Letting Bleed the Automatic Changer

Let It Bleed (1969) was the Rolling Stones’ eighth UK album. But only the second to not feature a group portrait

 
 

The cover displays a surreal sculpture designed by Robert Brownjohn, an American graphic designer known for blending formal graphic design concepts with wit and sixties pop culture. He is best known for his motion picture title sequences, especially From Russia with Love (Terence Young, 1963) and Goldfinger (Guy Hamilton, 1964).

The image consists of the Let It Bleed record being played by the tone-arm of an antique phonograph, and a record-changer spindle supporting several items stacked on a plate in place of a stack of records: a tape canister labelled Stones – Let It Bleed, a clock face, a pizza, a tyre and a cake with elaborate icing topped by figurines representing the band. The cake parts of the construction were prepared by then-unknown cookery writer Delia Smith. The reverse of the LP sleeve shows the same “record-stack” melange in a state of disarray. The artwork was inspired by the working title of the album, which was Automatic Changer

 
 

The album cover for Let It Bleed was among the ten chosen by the Royal Mail for a set of “Classic Album Cover” postage stamps issued in January 2010

 
 

Many people believe that “Let It Bleed” was a take on The Beatles‘ song/album Let It Be. The titles are very similar, and there was a running history of the Stones and the Beatles tweaking each other. The Stones’ Let It Bleed was released months before Let It Be, but the songs from Let It Be had been recorded earlier than most of the songs in Let It Bleed.

The lyrics include a number of drug and sexual references; however, to Allmusic critic Richie Unterberger, the song is mainly about “emotional dependency,” with Mick Jagger willing to accept a partner who want to lean “on him for emotional support.” Unterberger also asserts that Let It Bleed may be “the best illustration” of the way the Rolling Stones make “a slightly sloppy approach work for them rather than against them.”

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Music Project

1034339 slimaneMarilyn Manson, Kim Gordon, Beck Hansen, Daft Punk, Sky Ferreira, Courtney Love and Ariel Pink, photographed by Hedi Slimane

 
 

In 2013, Kim Gordon half-wears a Le Smoking, photographed by Hedi Slimane as part of his Saint Laurent music project, premiered here. A portrait series drawing on the relationship between rock icons and the house since its earliest days, the killer move being the artists style themselves in its seasonal and permanent collections to create an image of their own expression.

Inaugurated when the creative shot Christopher Owens as part of Saint Laurent’s reset, the ex-Girl was succeeded by Beck for the SS13 campaign. And follows Slimane’s history clothing Bowie, Jagger, The Libertines, The Kills, Franz Ferdinand; his ongoing photographic Rock Diary featuring emerging and established talents; commissioning show soundtracks by Daft Punk, Ty Segall and Thee Oh Sees as well as shooting Sky Ferreira for Saint Laurent’s pre-fall lookbook.

Gordon maintains the signature brilliance of a mannish woman in her picture, even nabbing Hedi’s own scarf. Part suited she treads a tightrope familiar from Sonic Youth, a free spirited girl with total TCB steeliness.

Courtney Love, photographed several times by Slimane over the past decade, is seen at home in a pinstriped suit and silk ruffle shirt wigging out over her guitar. Let It Bleed, Love’s ink locked in standoff with an evening dress, is a statement Mick J has history with, cake sculpture optional.

Marilyn Manson, he who drawled “I’m not an artist but a fucking work of art” follows, complemented by Ariel Pink who shows off his party trick with chipped nail polish. Both wear bikers.

If Yves Saint Laurent was fascinated with the arts – think of the epic Ballet Russes collection of AW76, though not only – this quartet have a subliminal link in Hedi’s exploration of West Coast cultural mythology.

Beyond that? They wear it well, a reminder of the magnetic insouciance that separates a rock star with someone who is simply in a band. Vive la difference.

Text: Dean Mayo Davies
Dazed and Confused